S. Carolina Match Play: Quarterfinals have been determined
Jarrett Grimes among quarterfinalist at S.C. Match Play <br>(Carolinas Golf Association Photo)</br>
Jarrett Grimes among quarterfinalist at S.C. Match Play
(Carolinas Golf Association Photo)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (June 17, 2016) -- While most first round matches Friday at Bear Creek Golf Club finished before reaching the 18th hole, Tripp French of Columbia and Nick Russell of Hilton Head Island needed 25 holes to decide the outcome. French emerged victorious from the marathon of a match.

No. 1 match play seed Riley Schank of Bluffton advanced to the Round of 16 by beating No. 32 seed Josh Fickes of Beaufort 5 & 4. Schank grabbed an early two-up lead thru two holes and never relinquished it. “I just kept it in play,” Schank said of his victory.

2009 Carolinas Mid-Amateur champion Jarrett Grimes of Columbia used a similar mindset in his first round match against Jonathan Phillips of Hardeeville. “In match play, you play off of your opponent,” said Grimes. “Par is a good score on this course. You can win holes with par.” In one of the few first round upsets, No. 24 seed Grimes defeated 9th seeded Phillips 4 & 2.

No. 16 seed John O’Brien of Columbia defeated No. 17 seed Drake Cassidy of Hartsville 2 up. O’Brien was one down heading into their 15th hole before making birdies on three of the final four holes to win. O’Brien knows the importance of being in the fairway to hit greens in regulation. Earlier this year, O’Brien nearly won a qualifier for the Web.com Tour Rex Hospital Open.

O'Brien earned a date with the medalist in the first afternoon match. The 16-seed used the momentum he generated in his Round of 32 match to jump out to an early lead over the stroke play medalist. "After making birdie on four of the last five in my morning match, I had this mentality that I don't care who I am playing and that mindset is tough to beat." O'Brien said.

The Columbia resident won two of the first three holes to set the tone early in the match. O'Brien was able to extend his lead to four on the par-5, No. 13. O'Brien took advantage of being in the driver's seat and forced Schank to make birdies to get back in the match.

The one-seed began to do just that. “On No. 14 he holed a 50-footer for birdie to beat me. The next hole my 9-iron got caught in the wind or something and ended up in the bunker and he won that one too." O'Brien explained. O'Brien maintained his composure and closed out Schank 3 & 2.

Connor Bruns of Duncan was another victorious higher seed in the Round of 16. Bruns earned the No. 12 seed but managed to upend the fifth-seed Matt O'Quinn of Beaufort. The Furman product used four straight birdies to take control of the match. "I made birdie on four after taking advantage of a good shot. Then I chipped in on No. 5. Good tee shots and good iron shots kept giving me great looks." Bruns said.

The Paladin recognized the importance of getting off the course early after closing out the match 6 & 5, "It is really nice to be able to out of the heat and go watch the U.S. Open."

Fellow Furman golfer Bryce Howell had to wait nearly three hours to face the winner of the 25 hole gauntlet. The final match of the day was worth the wait. Despite playing all day in triple digit temperatures, French refused to go down without a fight. "Honestly I was just trying to make it through the round, I was pretty tired," French explained. Howell was up to the challenge and held a two-up lead going into No. 16. For the 9th time Friday French stepped on the tee knowing he could not lose another hole. "I just really wanted to win," French said. He did just that. The Columbia resident evened the match by winning Nos. 16 and 17. French knocked in a downhill five footer for birdie to win the match 1 up on his 43rd hole of the day. "Hopefully I can close out a match sooner tomorrow." French joked after finishing the marathon.

ABOUT THE South Carolina Amateur Match Play

Championship format is 36 holes of stroke play to determine 32 qualifiers for match play. The defending champion is seeded number one for match play if otherwise eligible.

Entry is open to any male amateur golfer who has reached his 13th birthday, is a legal resident of South Carolina, is a member in good standing of a club which is a member of the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) and has an active GHIN® USGA Handicap Index® at a CGA member club that does not exceed 7.4.

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